In a career spanning over 40 years, it is truly remarkable that Meatloaf has been able to establish himself as a larger than life rock figure through an extensive discography of thirteen studio albums, his release Braver Than We Are being the most recent addition to the collection. This album sees the return of Meatloaf’s long time collaborator Jim Steinman who wrote all the material.
From the opening track it is clear that the music is of the same essence as iconic releases such and the Bat Out Of Hell (1977) and Bat Out Of Hell: Back into Hell (1993)- think of the sound of Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad and I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),respectively from these albums. Even the album art work is reminiscent of these releases, with Meatloaf and Steinman courageously facing the fearsome approach of the four horsemen (or motorcycle-men rather) of the apocalypse. Even as a sexagenarian, Meatloaf displays his flare of the dramatic.
I found Braver Than We Are to be an engaging theatrical experience. The production is cohesive throughout in terms of it’s bold sound, and despite it being a genre blender. For example, in the very first track Who Needs The Young, you are presented with a blues vibe that morphs itself into a comical ‘oom-pah’ musical theater number, it then changes into some sort of cabaret song. Somehow they make this surrealist dream-like changing labyrinth of styles workable. Speaking In Tongues is a beautiful ballad including gentler gospel tones. It wouldn’t be Meatloaf with out epic numbers such as Going All The Way Is Just The Start (A Song In 6 Movements). It’s more of a compressed music drama than a song, captivating and entertaining.
One thing that is apparent as I listened through is how uncontrolled Meatloaf’s voice is compared to his earlier releases. This understandable considering the grind it must have gone through in the past four decades. Meat Loaf still proves himself to be a powerful creative force despite his worn vocal delivery.
The return collaboration of Meatloaf and Jim Steinman has proved to be a successful one. Braver Than We Are is a new album in the classic sound of Meatloaf and an opportunity to engage a new generation of listeners and spark their curiosity to explore more of Meatloaf’s rich catalogue.